The Decemberists Tour And Five Other Things You Need To Know About The Band
The Decemberists are currently touring North America. Their trek resumes May 22 at the Les Schwab Amphitheater in Bend, Oregon. That night they’ll be joined by Spoon and The Districts.
Their robust itinerary includes a bunch of amphitheaters and pavilions as well as several festivals: the Sasquatch Music Festival, the Free Press Summer Festival, the Newport Folk Festival, and the Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival.
In fact, the last dates on their itinerary are the two weekends of the Austin City Limits Festival. The Decemberists tour will be in central Texas between Oct. 2 and Oct. 4 and then again between Oct. 9 and Oct. 11.
Fans should also look for The Decemberists at Red Rocks on May 27, New York City on June 5, and Boston on Sept. 23.
Spoon and The Districts aren’t the only acts set to support The Decemberists. Calexico, Courtney Barnett, Dan Mangan + Blacksmith, Father John Misty, Lady Lamb, Lucius, Shovels & Rope, and Wartime Blues will also spend time on the marquee.
The Decemberists are 15 years old, but they are differently not like other bands of that age. Below, Clickitticket enumerates five things you absolutely need to know about The Decemberists. The following five tidbits will be illuminating to both new and longtime fans of the bands.
>>The Decemberists Have Changed
Time changes us and it changes alt indie bands too. Certainly, The Decemberists are a different band than they were 12, 10, or even 5 years ago.
Their “change,” however, isn’t for the mere sake of changing nor is it a decline masquerading behind the euphuism of “change.”
The band’s change is much more organic.
They’ve matured and they’ve also encountered some real life obstacles.
Colin Meloy’s oldest child is autistic and his education has taken up a lot of the frontman’s time.
Meanwhile, Jenny Conlee was diagnosed with breast cancer that has thankfully gone into remission.
What this all means is the 2015 Decemberists are different; they’re a wiser bunch with their priorities in order. Fortunately, this has had a positive effect on their music.
>>The Decemberists Have An Affinity For Oregon
Even fans that have only been around since The Hazards of Love days know that the band is from Portland, Oregon. Few know that The Decemberists have a real affinity for the state.
Their 2015 schedule still contains four concerts in Oregon and just this past March they performed in Portland.
There are a lot of bands that haven’t visited Oregon five times in a decade much less a year.
On top of that…
The Decemberists have two shows scheduled in Washington and another in Idaho—both Oregon adjacent. And for what it’s worth, they’re playing the State Theatre in Portland, Maine on July 29.
Meloy owns a barn with the longest single-piece beam in the state.
>>The Decemberists Get It!
There are smart bands, wise bands, intelligent bands, and even witty bands. But few bands, regardless of their mental acumen, actually get “IT.”
By getting “IT” I mean they understand their relationship with their audience.
Fans want their bands to grow creatively and explore new musical frontiers… in the studio. But in concert fans want them to play all their biggest hits.
A lot of bands, especially those as old as The Decemberists, fight this unwritten contract. They want fans to only care about their new stuff (see Smashing Pumpkins).
The Decemberists are not one of those bands.
“I think about ourselves: do people want us to keep having “The Mariner’s Revenge Song” to finish every set? And I guess they do. There’s a certain obligation that you have to satisfy, and I think that’s why people continue to come to our shows. We’re mindful that there is a tacit agreement; we’re going to suck it up.” — Colin Meloy
The first track off their new album also discusses this relationship.
In “The Singer Addresses His Audience," Meloy croons:
We know, we know, we belong to ya
We know you threw your arms around us
In the hopes we wouldn't change
But we had to change some
The song, as well as the band’s attitude, isn’t mean spirited or angry. It’s honest (and perhaps a little cathartic).
If they didn’t write and perform songs like “The Singer Addresses His Audience" then the pressure to do stuff like end every show with “The Mariner’s Revenge Song” would ruin them.
>>The Decemberists Are A Great Live Band
You may not associate The Decemberists with great live music but they are actually quite amazing in concert. Their prowess on stage surpasses that of their contemporaries—Arcade Fire, Death Cab for Cutie, Feist, and The National.
Here’s a quick rundown of what to expect at a Decemberists concert:
...For a little folk band from the Rose City they really know how to rock.
...If you have Decemberists tickets expect about a two hour show.
...The audience will be mostly hipsters in their 30s and 40s.
...Meloy is a master at the art of bantering with the audience.
...Warm up your vocal chords. There are plenty of opportunities to sing at Decemberists shows.
...The band is known to have a whale puppet come on stage during “The Mariner’s Revenge Song.”
...There will probably be confetti.
>>The Decemberists Are At The Top Of Their Game
From the summer of 2011 to March of 2013 The Decemberists were on hiatus. Their first album after returning is What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World. It may be one of the best works they’ve ever released.
That’s almost unheard of in alternative rock circles. Unless you’re U2, in your 15th year you’re making average records aimed solely at your core audiences.
Not The Decemberists.
They made a great album anchored by the singles “Make You Better” and “The Wrong Year.”
Don’t believe me?
Punknews.org said that in What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World The Decemberists have “crafted one of, if not their best album ever a full decade and a half into their career.”
Paste Magazine says “What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World is another chapter in the already punctuated saga of one of rock’s best modern lyricists and his talented band.”
What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World Reviews
... Rolling Stone – Four out of five stars
... The Telegraph – Four out of five stars
... All Music – Four out of five stars
... Pop Matters – Eight out of ten stars
... Spin Magazine – 7 out of 10
... Amazon Customer Reviews – Four and half stars out of five
... iTunes Customer Reviews – Four and half stars out of five
The album is not without its faults. Some think it’s a little too long and not ambitious enough. Others, and this seem to be the bulk of the ire against the work, don’t like the fact that the band has changed.
The album peaked at number seven on the Billboard 200.
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